What is a Professional?

Direct Knowlege Contributor Taylor Bauer
  • By Taylor Bauer, Technical Writer & Digital Marketing Expert
  • Taylor is a writer and SEO manager with a B.S. in Political Communication from Illinois State University. He also received his M.S. in Communications from Illinois State. His background comes from journalism, working at an NPR member station for three years before transitioning to blogging and search engine marketing. He lives in Illinois with his wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards.

Many children (and adults, too) aspire to become professionals in particular fields. Maybe you dreamed of being an astronaut or working to help people in an area like social work. Compared to a casually interested person, the qualities of a professional must lead to high performance in the field of work such that the final product or achievement is outstanding. For example, volunteers on wildlife projects might only participate every couple of weeks. They will only know the basics and can help out with simple tasks, but I wouldn’t think they could professionally manage large groups or do veterinary work that needs certified personnel.

To be a professional means being a part of and making a living from a specific career activity due to having expertise in the field. A professional manner of working involves dedicating more time and effort into gaining experience. This dedication not only includes spending time working in the area but also getting the necessary education, certifications, and training.

Becoming a professional can help you in several areas of your life. It can give you purpose, build a range of skills, provide you with a steady income. It can also fulfill your desires in life to be part of something big. Some people like being a jack of all trades, but I think it doesn’t hurt to be a master in at least one. The professional areas I will discuss here include accountant, actuary, journalist, programmer, nurse, technical writer, and veterinarian.

Close up of business team discussing financial charts using digital tablet: people and technology

Working as a Professional Accountant

Working as an accountant is in high demand all over the globe. Pretty much any company, big or small, needs to do accounting professionally. Some people running small businesses try to do their accounting, but it can be a struggle. Not only is it hard to do, but I have seen some mistakes cost a lot of money. Sometimes slip-ups can even result in legal damage.

The high stakes in accounting make it worthwhile to get a professional involved. As an accountant, you would perform functions such as auditing and conducting financial statement analysis. Most accountants perform multiple duties in these areas and can do so from within a company or through an individual accounting practice. The information that comes from these actions helps people both within companies and from other entities to make decisions regarding resource allocation.

Training and Requirements

For each of the professional fields that I discuss here, I will go over the essential qualities, education, and certification. As far as accounting goes, there are several requirements. To work professionally in the field, you would need to be certified by a national association. If you don’t meet such certification, you limit yourself to working independently or under other accountants.

Additionally, you also need to follow specific standards and guidelines regarding ethics while working. The exact requirements vary based on region, so I recommend checking out what your country requires. The most common are the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

When it comes to daily duties on the job, a professional accountant works in the manner that best suits their educational background. If you have a bachelor’s degree but no more, then you might need to get a certificate on top of it. Because certification can take up to a year to get, I suggest looking into a higher degree like a master’s to get ahead from the start. But regardless of your schooling, all states in the US require that you pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.

Assessing Risk as an Actuary

Actuarial sciences aim to assess risk through the application of mathematical and statistical methods. Many industries use this knowledge to ensure stability, particularly for commercial purposes. However, insurance is one of the most common fields in this area. After all, nearly everyone has some type of legal protection in place for themselves or their family.

From a disciplinary approach, this formal science incorporates the use of interrelated finance-oriented subjects, including probability theory, statistics, economics, and computer sciences. Through the application of these theories and practices, actuarial sciences develop and rely on models. These models help to create tables for analysis of different situations, which typically results in a chart used to determine premiums or costs for various institutions.

Professionals in the field usually work in a standardized manner that I would consider optimal for the average person. They have regular schedules working on weekdays in office environments and frequently make substantial salaries.

Training and Requirements

Actuaries themselves go through intense training and obtain certification through several in-depth professional exams. But computers also now play a role in making their jobs faster, so I would recommend getting comfortable with them.

Interestingly, this profession is a leader in both the need and ingress of young actuaries with these types of new skills. Of note, the incorporation of computer science into the field is relatively recent (since about the 1980s). As a budding element within the area, it is critical to follow developments that enhance the effectiveness and accuracy of actuarial science.

Similar to accounting, actuarial science relies on the language of math and statistics. It also often focuses on the field of finance but can play essential roles in other areas such as insurance, natural hazards, and pensions.

Writer Working in Calm Environment

The Life of a Professional Journalist

Although many people look at journalism as merely “news” and television broadcasts, I will emphasize here that the field is quite broad and encompassing. Because it is an area within humanities scholarship, it takes root in several disciplines. Notably, journalism pulls from studies of culture (anthropology) as well as philosophy.

Journalists are, by trade, newsmakers. They seek to gather information, assess its implications and value, then create and disseminate this information to the public. As such, journalists often need to make tough ethical decisions about when and where to publish their findings. This sometimes means the field of work is often considered a “whistleblower” field that enables the public to be better informed about controversial political and social currents. I certainly appreciate this, as it allows me to be aware of the people and governments that pose a danger to peace and other positive aspects of modern life. For this reason, journalism also holds a special place in democratic societies. In other words, the significant role of journalism permits a more democratic political environment. In such an atmosphere, citizens like you and I have more information with which to make decisions and cast votes.

Scholarship within the field aims to identify ethical parameters for journalists, best applications for journalistic content development, and links between media studies and other areas. Academically, it is still a somewhat growing area that continues to explore its limitations and applications.

Training and Requirements

Working professionally in this field usually requires a relevant bachelor’s degree. The major doesn’t necessarily need to be journalism, but I think it certainly wouldn’t hurt. You could even choose a specific field like investigative or broadcast journalism. Some alternative areas of study that still have essential qualities for professional journalism include writing, English, or communications. You could also study the subject that you wish to report on, such as technology or politics.

In addition to formal education, I suggest making writing part of your daily life. Practicing the skill can help fine-tune your abilities and build up a portfolio for getting jobs. You can start by writing a diary, blog, or doing freelance work on various subjects.

The next step might be to start getting involved with editors and reporters. In communications fields, building relationships can get you a long way. For example, it might get you into an internship that eventually leads to a full-time career. If you’re new to journalism, you might start with an article that explores various types to find out which is right for you. I would also suggest investigating potential universities to attend and the qualities of careers in the field.

Professional Development programmer working in software and coding technology

Options for Professional Programming

Programming builds upon computer science through the creation of computer applications and software. Within the field, programmers design elements like web pages or use applications that rely on various “computer” languages. Their central goal is to provide the written content for programs and software in a wide variety of application domains. Thus, it gives users a means through which to communicate a set of instructions to the computer. You and I know this as “code.”

As a formal science, programming is one of the most practical to study. You can learn a great deal from articles I link to here. Then apply that knowledge in school and work in many areas because programs rely on formalized languages within a formal system. As such, the codes are more or less universal and highly applicable and attainable. Nonetheless, working within the field requires a great deal of study and practice. Basic programming courses can take weeks to teach students how to instruct a computer to read “hello world” through a specific code.

Because of its apparent link to computer science, programming is a quickly growing field. The emphasis on designing applications that intertwine with human-interface and artificial intelligence technologies identify it as a premier industry for growth.

Training and Requirements

Unlike some other fields, working in a profession as a programmer is something you can build from the ground up. As long as you have a computer and some willpower, you can get where you want to go. You don’t necessarily need a higher degree, certifications, or other professional qualities to get involved. Of course, I maintain that a degree can help accelerate the process. But there are also quite a few options for learning programming online by yourself.

Whichever way you choose to do it, there are some basics you’ll need to cover. First off, I recommend learning multiple programming languages. The types that will be most useful to you depend on which kind of job you wish to have. For instance, professional web developers need entirely different qualities and skills than data scientists.

Hospital Nurse With Digital Tablet Talks To Senior Patient

Being a Professional Nurse

As society advances, so too do our standards for healthcare. They no longer include purely keeping someone alive. Instead, I also expect medical settings to consider the happiness and well-being of individuals. Nurses do just this by providing care to make patients comfortable, reduce their pain, and find all parts of their life that may affect their health. These can involve applying sciences such as psychology, physiology, and nutrition, as well as those sciences that medical doctors employ.

A professional nurse possesses qualities of both a worker in science and a caregiver. They use expertise in the medical field to treat health issues while also providing compassion and dedication to people. This mix of characteristics continually evolves as the needs of society change. However, the one constant is that nurses take in a complete view of their patients’ well-being.

Expectations of a professional nurse also depend on the place that they work and how the location expects them to contribute. For example, a summer camp nurse needs to have skills relating to active children, while a hospice nurse should expect the opposite.

Training and Requirements

How you become a professional nurse varies depending on the type of nurse you wish to be. A registered nurse has fewer responsibilities and thus less educational requirements than an advanced practice registered nurse. The latter requires at least a master’s degree, and both require a base level of nursing education and licensing. There are also license practical nurses who work professionally under a registered nurse.

Regardless of the path you choose, I highly recommend getting a solid education as a foundation. This path doesn’t necessarily need to be directly related to nursing. Many people start by getting a bachelor’s in biology or chemistry. But as you move up the ladder, I think it’s best to narrow in on a specialty. Think about what interests you most and which educational paths can lead you there. In addition to a degree, you will also need clinical experience that typically comes with nursing programs.

Professional Technical Writer

Sometimes the qualities of a professional writer come from hard work, while other times, they come naturally. If you already enjoy writing and can produce quality content, then I would say you’re halfway there. But some people enjoy writing while not being able to write very well. This inexperience has an easy fix that just requires a bit of work in an environment such as a classroom.

Working professionally as a technical writer provides a lot of flexibility. If you wish, you can work sporadically as a freelancer in your free time on miscellaneous projects. However, this method would likely not pay as well as working consistently on similar projects. Such consistency improves your knowledge on the topic and assures clients that you know your stuff. You could also work with a company that specializes in technical writing for publications such as academic journals or government documents.

Training and Requirements

Getting a degree in writing can help you fine-tune skills that take your content to a new level. Something that I suggest taking into consideration when getting a degree in the subject is what you plan on writing about professionally. If you want to write about cancer research, then I recommend you consider minoring in biology or a related field. After all, the difference between technical writing and other types is that a professional writer should have specialized knowledge that allows them to write at an advanced level on certain difficult subjects.

But the material you write isn’t the only important factor. One of the most vital qualities of a professional technical writer is the ability to communicate information to a particular audience effectively. If you write a user manual for a computer program, you need to assume the audience knows nothing. If you write for a scientific publication, you should write to the level of the scientists reading it.

Veterinarian treat the tiger in a zoo

Working With Animals as a Professional Veterinarian

If you have a soft spot for our furry, feathery, and scaly friends like I do, then you might want to look into veterinary sciences. Like medicine, this field applies various sciences like biology and chemistry. However, it focuses on the applications on animals and improving their health.

Veterinarians work professionally to diagnose illness, provide treatments, and perform procedures on a variety of creatures. There are as many fields of veterinary science as there are in general human medicine. But then multiply that number by many more species!

Professionals in the field frequently work with common domestic animals and pets, but not always. They can also work on laboratory animals or zoo animals off many species. And sometimes creatures in the wild need some outside help, especially if they are part of an endangered species. Wildlife veterinarians help out in those instances by doing their best to prevent poaching, study wild animal health, and increase wild populations.

Training and Requirements

Veterinarians should possess certain personal qualities as well as professional qualifications. Respect and love for animals is a must, but it should also come with a strong work ethic. These soft skills will come in handy when you work along with side animals and when you complete the various types of certification necessary in the field.

Before even getting into a college of veterinary medicine, you will likely need a degree in zoology or biology. And on top of those requirements, you will need a license depending on your state of residence. There are some additional certifications you can get, but they rely on the area in which you wish to work.

This professional area has a lot of regulations with various requirements for any given position. There is also a large number of people interested in becoming part of the field, so competition is quite high across the globe. I recommend keeping these challenging aspects in mind if you choose to get involved.

Professionals FAQ

Although there are many areas in which you can become a professional, the paths to achieving the status are often similar. Below, I have provided answers to some frequent questions about professional work. For more details on specific job titles, check out the sections above.

What does being a professional mean?

To be a professional means being a part of and making a living from a specific career activity due to having expertise in the field. This level of experience and knowledge not only includes spending time working in the area, but also getting the necessary education, certifications, and training.

Who are considered professionals?

Professionals typically have credentials that meet specific standards within their line of work. In some areas, such as medicine, these requirements include multiple degrees, certifications, licenses, and years of work experience. In other fields, such as programming or writing, the most crucial factors are the quality of work that the professional produces.

What are the qualities of a professional?

Professionals in different fields have different qualities but share some particular traits. They commonly have a strong work ethic and dedication to their craft, leading them to obtain unique skills that require a lot of work. Many professionals also hold certifications in their line of work to demonstrate their capabilities and back up their claims.

Conclusion

Becoming a professional often requires an immense amount of work. Gaining such status can mean years of study and even more work experience. Although not all professionals are the same, they often share certain qualities that help them achieve their goals. Personal characteristics such as strong driving motivation and work ethic are critical for getting through the harsh beginnings of the process. And having qualities like a keen interest and skill in your particular field is vital to becoming successful as a professional.

If you wish to become a professional in any area, I recommend taking a look at various degree options. Consider all of the classes you would need to do as well as the experience you would need after school. Or, if you’re someone who doesn’t feel that going to school is an excellent option at this time, you can find options that don’t require advanced degrees. Check out some classes online for skills like writing and programming. They’re typically quite affordable, flexible, and useful. You can start small as a sideline freelancer on small projects. Eventually, you can work up to making it a full-time professional gig.

I believe becoming a professional is something anyone can achieve with the right outlook and resources. I am here to help you find the tools you need to get started. Now it’s up to you to begin your journey and reach your goals.

What professional did you want to be growing up?

How have your aspirations changed over the years?

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